Karl--excellent post. If I may, is the material now available for any "additative" manufacturing process; i.e. 3-D printing, stereo lithography, etc etc. It certainly seems from your post the characteristics are very desirable and have definite applications. Just a thought.
Chain orientation in feedstock before machining can have a large effect on final dimensions. Machining top surfaces of extruded plate can cause internal stresses to release causing warp on a previously flat plate.
Mr Hebel has writtenn a useful article about the challenges found in machining some thermoplastics. All of the points that he made are certainly valid, and the suggested work-arounds will be helpful, no doubt.
But most of the challenges also exist when machining metal parts, except for the moisture absorbtion. The same tips apply when working to produce higher accuracy metal parts as well, although to a somewhat lesser extent. I just wanted to point that out to those who may need to give direction in the macchining of high accuracy parts.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.